Ghana needs a national data on Adenoviruses to develop effective vaccines

Emerita Professor Isabella A Quakyi

Emerita Professor Isabella A. Quakyi, an Immunologist and Parasitology, has called for the development of a national profile of Adenoviruses, to shape knowledge for effective development of vaccines.

She described Adenoviruses as a group of viruses that could cause a range of illnesses including those with cold-like symptoms, fever, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea and eye diseases, and some of these usually spread from infected persons to others through close personal contact, air, and touching of contaminated objects and surfaces.

She said Ghana had a wide collection of Adenoviruses that were known to cause these common illnesses, but “these knowledge and data were scattered, therefore to be able to develop effective vaccines to attack these diseases, there was the need to effectively compile them into common profile for easy studies, analysis and use as a baseline for effective vaccines to attack these diseases.”

Prof. Quakyi also suggested that the country should set up a National Institute of Health, with the mandate to understand holistically, the issues of health, and to bring the required expertise into the discussion for solutions for the country’s health challenges and be in readiness for epidemics such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prof. Quakyi, made the call in Accra, when she took her turn at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences’ (GAAS) Annual lecture in the Sciences 2021, which was on the topic: “Self and Non-Self: The Marvel of the Human Immune System”.

She stated that natural and, or induced immune tolerance was at the heart and marvel of human survival, because by the complex nature of the human body and through its cells, which had innate a natural mechanism, it was able to recognise and protect itself from any foreign organism or material and build a defense against it.

She took the participants through the basics of immunology, explaining further that the innate mechanism, known as the Immune System, “helps the body to recognize what is self from non-self.

The Prof. further explained that the system consisting of an extraordinary complex network of interacting cells and molecules (self), worked together to ensure that appropriate response was produced to a particular infection or pathogen (non-Self).

She, also explained among other things how the lymphatic system played a major role in helping defend against infections.

“Indeed T-Cells (CD4+ T-Cells) are at the command Centre for the immune system playing a key role in immune responses,” adding that mathematically, modelling of immune processes such as T-Cell remover and homeostasis, had aided the understanding of immunology, and that killer and Regulatory T-Cells helped to control the immune responses in the human body.

Prof. Quakyi said while it was important to understand and enhance the ‘Self’ and sustain its performance in the body, there was also must also be an effective way of handling the ‘non-self’ when they showed up, and it was the reason why scientist and researchers must work collaboratively to understand how these pathogens to be able to develop appropriate and effective vaccines to tackle them.

Prof. Samuel Kofi Sefa-Dedeh, President of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, applauded the presenter for the in-depth knowledge shared, and said such encounters at the GAAS series, could go a long way in contributing to effective solutions of the country’s diverse challenges.

He encouraged students, academia and the public to patronise the programme to share knowledge and learn about a wide range of issues for national development.

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